After three years, the Gonzalo Higuain era with Napoli looks like it may be coming to an end, after the striker rejected Napoli's contract extension offer on Tuesday. His brother-slash-agent made the announcement in an interview with Radio Continental, declaring that Higuain does not intend to stay beyond his current contract.
Gonzalo won’t renew his contract with Napoli. Napoli are currently asking for the payment of his release clause as a condition for his departure, but Gonzalo and I decided not to extend the deal.
We’ll see what happen next year, we could even wait until the contract’s expiry date.
-Source: La Gazzetta dello Sport
As Higuain's contract runs out in 2018, giving him two seasons left in Naples, his agent's announcement will set off sirens all over Europe with big clubs in need of strikers. Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, and Chelsea have all shown significant interest in Higuain over the last couple of months, and Bayern Munich have lurked as an interested part as well. Other clubs like Liverpool or Arsenal have been floated as options at times as well, leaving Higuain plenty of heavyweight suitors available -- all of whom could easily afford to pay the €94 million release clause in his contract that Napoli are still demanding that any interested team pay.
It would be a shame to see Higuain leave now, especially after his record-setting season that saw him score the most goals in a single season in Serie A history. He's scored 91 goals in 146 all-competitions appearances for Napoli overall, a stunning figure that would be difficult to replace, though that €94 million would go a long ways towards helping the partenopei find a way to move on -- if they can get it, that is.
The unfortunate reality is that now that this announcement has been made, Napoli will very likely be unable to hold onto Higuain for long. They just lost a lot of negotiating leverage, which might wind up hurting their ability to demand that full release clause as well. Fans can only hold out hope that whatever's gone wrong in the player-club relationship can be fixed and an extension signed, but if Higuain's agent is making this announcement in public, it may be far too late to salve any wounds now.